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Worldcon, part 3

More odds and ends from the World Science Fiction Convention is San Antonio (earlier entries below)…

1) I attended the brief ceremony for the Prometheus Award, which is given out annually by the Libertarian Futurist Society to the book that best exemplifies libertarian thought. The winner this year was Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema. I haven’t read it, but I was a bit surprised by this pick. I’ve read some of Doctorow’s essays and blog posts and he usually comes off as more leftist than libertarian. Guess I’ll keep an open mind, as libertarianism includes a lot of uneasy overlap between the left and the right. Also announced was the Prometheus Hall of Fame award, given to a libertarian-leaning science-fiction classic. That prize went to Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon. I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read that one yet either, but it is loaded onto my Kindle, impatiently tapping its foot waiting to be read.

Original Robert E. Howard manuscript and vintage issue of Weird Tales with R.E.H. cover story.
Original Robert E. Howard manuscript and vintage issue of Weird Tales with R.E.H. cover story.

2) This being Texas, there were a lot of panels and displays devoted to native son Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan the Barbarian, duh). Anything you wanted to know about Howard’s creations was explored in almost obsessive depth. I attended one panel on the R.E.H boom of the 1970s, when all the books came back in print, the comics debuted and fanzines devoted to Howard flourished. I have a million of his books, and I think I need to revisit some of them. Fun fact: Some of Howard’s early works have entered the public domain, meaning anyone can write about the characters, within limits. Hmmm.

3) The best panel I attended was Genetic Manipulation and Made-to-Order Species: Biotech in SF, which, if you’ve read my Connor Rix novels, you’ll know is right up my alley. Writers on the panel included David Brin, Nancy Kress, Ramez Naam, Sam Scheiner, Amy Thompson and Paolo Bacigalupi. This one had some good back-and-forth. Brin and Kress lamented the depiction of genetic engineering in SF movies that only shows it in a bad light, ignoring the amazing positives that are possible, and the tremendous good that can be done for people with this line of research. Bacigalupi was more worried about the unintended consequences five or six steps down the line. I thought Kress had the better of the argument.

4) Politics. Sigh. It’s probably unavoidable, but politics always rears its head at events like this. Well, technically, most of it was avoidable. The names of many of the panels had a whiff of humanities grad school about them, like “The Role of Gender in…”  So these were easily avoided. Harder to ignore was a Hugo winner blithely assuming everyone else in the room naturally shared his political viewpoint. My Eyeroll Award goes to local  artist John Picacio. John is a great talent who truly deserved to win his Hugo for Best Professional Artist, but he couldn’t resist using his moment to deplore his dumb ol’ home state for not following his preferred course of action. Sigh. Eyeroll.

Genuine historical artifacts from the Texas-Israeli War of 1999. Honest.
Genuine historical artifacts from the Texas-Israeli War of 1999. Honest.

5) And, of course, there was an amazing display of the true, no-fooling, honest historical record of the great Texas-Israeli War of 1999. Those were tense times for our state, but we came through it okay. I read this book in 8th grade, and despite its slanderous opinions on the quality of Texas beer, it remains a valuable historical textbook. Students in Texas have to read it in 3rd, 5th, 8th and 10th grade, lest we forget the valuable lesson learned from that war. Honest.

Worldcon part 2: Writers

The World Science Fiction Convention, and the Hugo awards presented there every year, has always been primarily focused on the literature of science fiction. Unlike Comic-Con out in San Diego, which has a heavy Hollywood presence, Worldcon celebrates the novels, short stories, novellas and fan magazines of the genre above all else.

Sure, there were some movie and TV stars in attendance in San Antonio this year (Hey! It’s that dude who plays The Hound on Game of Thrones!), but for the most part, the star-gazing at Worldcon involves spotting your favorite authors.

Now, I’ve been a writer or editor for 23 years, and I know my share of writers, so I don’t normally get the vapors around other scribes. But man, when you get the chance to meet and mingle with authors you’ve been reading for decades, your true favorites, writers whose stories stay lodged in your mind for life, it’s hard not to devolve into a squealing fanboy.

The grandmaster, Robert Silverberg, signing at the 71st Worldcon in San Antonio.
The grandmaster, Robert Silverberg, signing at the 71st Worldcon in San Antonio.

For instance—Robert Silverberg. He’s my favorite SF author, a multiple Hugo and Nebula winner, author of classics such as Dying Inside and Nightwings. When I found out he was doing a signing on Friday afternoon I rearranged my schedule to be there. Squealing fanboy? Well, I did stand in line for 45 minutes to get him to sign my copies of Project Pendulum and A Time of Changes, but I managed to not gush too embarrassingly.

Nancy Kress is another former Hugo winner who was nominated again this year for her novella After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall. The book had already won a Nebula award (The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America’s top award). She’s long been on my list of authors I need to read, and after attending a couple of panels she was on, I went straight to one of the booksellers in the vendor area and bought a copy and later got it signed. Impressive woman, impressive book.

But everywhere I turned there was an author whose books clutter my shelves and my mind. I attended a reading by George R.R. Martin of a chapter from his next A Song of Ice and Fire book, and might have even tried to get one of his books signed but for the line that stretched from San Antonio to Austin. David Brin was seemingly everywhere, usually on the best panels. And look, there’s Kim Stanley Robinson! No, over there, next to John Scalzi.

That kind of weekend.

So call me a nerd, a fanboy, whatever. At the bright lights of Comic-Con I probably wouldn’t recognize a quarter of the names and faces. But at Worldcon, I was taking a walk through the bookshelves of my life.

Worldcon!

Happy winners at the 60th Hugo Awards. Yes, that's George R.R. Martin in the front row.
Happy winners at the 60th Hugo Awards. Yes, that’s George R.R. Martin in the front row.

Just got back from a weekend at the World Science Fiction Convention (aka LoneStarCon 3), conveniently located practically in my backyard, just down the road in San Antonio. It was an absolutely great time. Every hour of every day there were at least a dozen panels/readings/autograph sessions/films from which to choose. I brought home a small mountain of books and gave away a few of my own. This con is the big one, the event where the Hugo Award, the top prize in science-fiction, is presented.

I’ll be posting items from Worldcon all week, but first, a few highlights. In case you haven’t Badges, 2013 Worldconheard, the Hugo for best novel went to John Scalzi’s Redshirts. The Best Novella Hugo went to Brandon Sanderson’s The Emperor’s Soul, Best Novelette to Pat Cadigan’s The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi, and Best Short Story to Ken Liu’s Mono no Aware. The Avengers won the Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (also known as: movie), while the Blackwater episode of Game of Thrones won Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. This was my first Hugo awards ceremony, and it was truly exciting seeing some of the giants in the field, talented writers whose work I’ve been reading, in some cases, for decades.

But probably the highlight of the event was dinner Saturday night with Hugh Howey and some of his fans and writer friends. Hugh is the author of the indie-breakout-to-bestseller Wool, and if you haven’t read it, you should pop over to Amazon and buy it right now. Hugh invites fans to events like this everywhere he goes, and he’s the nicest writer you’ll ever meet, a guy who goes the extra mile and then some for his readers. I made some new friends at the table that night, including the writer Michael Bunker and film maker Eric Tozzi. I can’t wait to dive into Michael’s book The Silo Archipelago, and look forward to Eric’s new release, The Scout, in November.

Next installment: Autographs!

Book Plug Friday

Follow The Chupacabra got a mention over at PJ Media in their Book Plug Friday post, so I need to tip the hat in thanks to Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin for including it. If you’re searching for new indie books, its a good place to check out on Fridays.

In other Chupacabra news, the e-book is now also available in the Kobo store, which seems the preferred destination for many Australian readers. If any Down Under readers discover the Chupacabra on their Kobo, I’d like to hear about it (almost as much as I like saying that).

Future Reading

My next book is complete! It’s going through editing and revisions now, with beta readers getting their first looks. Title and cover to follow, but this one is a bit different than the Connor Rix books. It’s a contemporary multiverse fantasy incorporating the myths and legends of the American Southwest. I challenged myself to write a modern fantasy employing mythological beings without relying on vampires, fairies, elves, shape-shifters, or other well-used creatures. We’ve got a rich trove of myths and legends in these sun-baked parts, and I hope to use them to bring a fresh perspective to the contemporary fantasy genre. Sound interesting? Look for the book’s release in August.

Coming Soon

I’ve had a few recent inquiries about my next book (oh yes, there is one), and now the project is far enough along that I can announce a few details. I’m having a blast with this one. I just passed the 42,000-word mark and plan to release it later this summer. It’s a contemporary fantasy novel where the protagonists travel hidden paths between an infinite variety of alternate Earths—and along the way the legendary creatures of the American Southwest come to life. Shadowlands and chupacabras, baby! Stay tuned for a full synopsis and cover preview in the coming months.

Prime Time

I’ve decided to experiment a bit with one of my books. I’ve entered the first volume in myCover, Rules of Force Connor Rix series of SF thrillers, Rules of Force, in the Kindle Select program. So all you Amazon Prime members out there, you can read my book for free for the next three months. If you haven’t had the chance to dive into Connor Rix’s world of Modified super human rebels and outlaws, here’s your no-risk opportunity. I’ll be trying some other things as the summer progresses and will report back here how it all worked. Get started on that summer reading!